I used to teach Bible classes to middle & high school students in the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) school system. Now, I’m a secular humanist and an atheist. In this series, I review the major ideas I used to teach, in contrast with how I would teach them now.
#1. The biggest idea I used to teach was: “God exists.”
The way I’d have to teach that now is: Bullshit. It’s a popular– strike that– very popular delusion, but popularity doesn’t make bullshit into not-bullshit.
Ironically, that is one of the main tenets of Seventh-day Adventism (without the ‘bullshit’ word). The whole SDA message is focused on a kind of global conspiracy theory, in which Satan has managed to delude the whole religious and non-religious world into a massive deception. The SDA “great controversy” conspiracy theory culminates in a showdown supposedly predicted in the book of Revelation (I’ll get to that later).
But to swallow all the rest of the SDA delusion, one has to begin by swallowing the appetizer– namely, the doctrine that every other religion, even all the competing forms of Christianity, are counterfeits and tools in the hands of a wiley Devil, and only exactly one group of divinely appointed people have seen through it: Seventh-day Adventists. Once you choke that hard, crusty piece of poo down, all the rest of the bullshit goes down easy. Okay, enough with the shit metaphors. And back to the point.
God does not exist. If he did exist and was the powerful, benevolent, forward-thinking being he’s made out to be as the star of the SDA story about him, he could never be dismissed for lack of evidence as easily as he has been. Why would God hide?
The ‘God Delusion,’ as Dawkins eloquently explains, is quite possibly a leftover evolutionary trait which made it more likely that we would survive if we hyperactively over-attributed agency to all possible threats. “Was that the wind rustling the grass? Or a hominid-eating predator?” The ones who answered that question by saying, “Fuck it. It’s nice out here. And I’m not done cooking my lizard patties,” were the ones who did not survive to carry on the species. The ones who DID survive inevitably, generation after generation, became more and more obsessive about detecting agency everywhere in their environment, even when it wasn’t warranted.
One fateful evening, perhaps, the question was asked: “Who made those tiny lights up there?” Our OCD ancestors reflexively assumed some powerful Being (an ‘agent’) made the stars and the whole world. Not trusting the evidence of technologically advanced space and earth science which hadn’t happened yet, they innocently (yet tragically) created an imaginary Skygod Creator. So, religion was born and became a virulent strain of delusion which humanity is only just beginning to diagnose and treat.
If you disagree, please reply. But only reply with evidence, OK? My mind is open. I would love to believe in a higher power. Honestly! It became such a habit over the 25 years I spent trying to convince young people that God exists, I still find remnants of the idea in my thinking. So convince me. Better yet, throw the light of evidence on your faith, and see if there is anything real there.